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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Bankside Globe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0912  Tuesday, 29 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Sep 1998 11:00:53 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe

[2]     From:   Rosalind C. King <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Sep 1998 19:27:24 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe

[3]     From:   William Williams <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Sep 1998 18:22:57 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe

[4]     From:   Jerry Bangham" <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Sep 1998 20:25:16 -0500
        Subj:   Anti-Semitism at the Globe

[5]     From:   David Nicol <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Sep 1998 04:31:30 PDT
        Subj:   Re: "milling about" at the Globe


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Sep 1998 11:00:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe

Does anyone happen to know if the season is over?  If not, when does it
end?

Thanks.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rosalind C. King <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Sep 1998 19:27:24 +0000
Subject: 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe

Globe audiences

The situation and the history is a little more complex than Tom Simone
suggests. It has always been a matter of Globe policy for the theatre to
be welcoming to everyone - hence the desire to peg yard tickets at #5
for as long as possible - and everyone involved has actively wanted to
develop an engaged and participatory audience response to the
productions.

The initial efforts to make this happen possibly backfired. In the acres
of news stories about the building  accompanying the Prologue season in
1996, a great deal of easy journalism was written about the supposed
Elizabethan practice of throwing rotten eggs and tomatoes etc etc, for
which, as Stanley Wells pointed out at the time, also in the daily
press, the only 'evidence' is the vituperative bile of
anti-theatricalist pamphleteers. One article could do little against
such a tide however and Mark Rylance was sent various objects for the
actors to throw back at the groundlings, including a sackful of brussels
sprouts.

It is undoubtedly the case that many audience members during 1996 and
1997 arrived feeling that they were expected to boo and cheer - or that
even if this was not what was expected, it is what Elizabethans did.

I was dramaturg for the production of 'Damon and Pythias' which had a
single performance as support for the production of 'Two Gents' (1996).
We had some very sticky few minutes in which a mis-judged musical effect
sparked titters in the 900-strong audience. The song which followed is
high camp tragedy (lots of 'Gripe me you greedy griefs' etc) and it
would have been easy for Patricia Kerrigan playing Pythias to have
given-in to the pressure from the auditorium to send it up, but she
fought back and held them. Quite a tussle it was, too. Thereafter the
boos, gasps and laughs (the play is a tragi-comedy) were the ones we
wanted.

The building itself, as has been remarked, has an interesting effect on
audiences. At the very first performance of Two Gentlemen, groundlings
who had been sitting on the ground leapt up and crowded down to  the
stage the moment actors first walked on. The fact that one is so
conscious of being able to see clearly as many as 1500 other audience
members, also creates a strong sense of community and audience identity,
and possibly  engenders a feeling of warmth - the audience wanting a
good time, *willing* the production to succeed (or at least to be fun,
fun, fun) and at worst, prepared, themselves, to playact.

The American actors playing the French in Henry V were indeed reputedly
upset by being made the focus for racial hatred from the audience -
although they also, on the TV documentary that was made about the
theatre and the production, referred to the French as the 'villains'.
However, standing in the yard on four occasions through the season I
felt every time, that the audience behaviour was being caused by the way
in which the play was being performed.

What I saw was French insults about the English,  lobbed into the middle
distance (not eyeball to eyeball with individuals in the audience which
might have produced a different effect). Delivery was very slow,
punctuated with meaningful pauses which allowed the boos to come back.
Mark Rylance stepped out of role to stop one performance because he
thought that things were getting out of hand, but there was no sense
that it was the actors' job to control audience response from within
their characters.

I found this completely reprehensible. Whether this type of behaviour
was 'authentic' to 1599 is a moot point. ( I believe both that the
original audiences did not necessarily behave that way and that the
play, in any case,  is not written that way.  I could go into this, but
won't here.) However, It was certainly not proper, or authentic to the
concerns of audience members in 1997, in an England that is supposed to
be part of Europe. It made me very, very angry.

Booing and hissing of Shylock happened this year, but the dramaturgical
situation was slightly different. In Henry V,  audiences booed the
French for jeering at the English. In MoV they joined *with* Salerio in
hissing Shylock. This was a piece of directorial stage business, which
takes its impetus more from the history of booing at the Globe than it
does from what Shylock describes the christians as doing in the play.
However, perhaps given the furore surrounding the behaviour generally,
plus the question of the play and its suitabiity for performance now, it
was done in a rather discreet, unbrutal way - which is arguably the
worst of all worlds.

By contrast, Antonio actually spat on Shylock in the London production
starring Dustin Hoffmann (as Shylock) about 10 yrs ago. This was highly
shocking, distasteful and disturbing - largely because it was 'nice'
Antonio, rather than Salerio doing the spitting. It's not so much the
act, as why and how the act is done, that makes it either gratuitous or
telling.

However by the end of the season, in September, on the only occasion
when I personally saw the production, Norbert Kentrup as Shylock had
acquired a good deal of stature and his very dignity quelled the hisses
from the auditorium. He was, in his own phrase 'riding the audience',
not letting them ride him.

Given the history, it may be difficult for the Globe to outgrow the
problem, but for my money, it's down to the production and the
performance. It is not the fault of audiences.

Rosalind King
School of English and Drama
Queen Mary and Westfield College
University of London

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Williams <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Sep 1998 18:22:57 -0500
Subject: 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0908  Re: Bankside Globe

There has been much talk, some of it by me, about the Globe audiences in
1997 and particularly 1998.  It has been said, or asserted, that the
Globe "management" has encouraged, hyped, whatever, the active, some
would say over active, participation of the audience.  I have followed
most of the press coverage of the Globe in the British media and have
received nearly all of the print information the Globe sends out and I
do not recall and cannot find much in the way of encouragement of the
audience such as has been described by some on this list.  Indeed, in
the TV program done on Henry V at the Globe I recall several of the
actors, Rylance in particular, being surprised by the audience's
spontaneous reactions.  Yes, Lancelot and Co. did, perhaps, overdo it a
bit this summer in the pre-performance stuff but this was connected to
the way the play opened on stage with the contention between the upper
and lower class singers.  In any case, could someone provide us specific
examples of the Globe management actively encouraging, demanding,
hyping, etc. the audience's involvement in the performance?

WPW

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jerry Bangham" <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Sep 1998 20:25:16 -0500
Subject:        Anti-Semitism at the Globe

I can't say that I found the production of "Merchant" particularly
anti-Semitic, although I talked to a number of people who did. I just
found it poorly directed and not very effective.

I did however find the Shylock in the Cuban "Tempest" (that's right the
Shylock in the Cuban "Tempest", although he was Romeo when he was
younger) to be an offensive stereotype.

Incidentally, I just found out that the actor who played Shylock was
Pablo Guevera, Ch

 

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